A lie detector pilot scheme to catch out benefit fraudsters has saved Harrow Council over £420,000.

James Plaskitt, the anti-fraud minister, visited Harrow Civic Centre, in Station Road, to see the system in action last Wednesday.

The project uses Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) Technology, where trained operators spot the changes in a callers voice to check whether it is a high or low risk call.

Mr Plaskitt, said: "Harrow Council is one of seven local authority pilots nationwide, who have already recognised that this cutting-edge technology is a unique weapon in the fight against benefit fraud.

"We need to continue to do more to make sure that taxpayers' money always goes to those who need it most."

Harrow was the first council to trial the project which launched in May 2007.

The benefits system is currently done through letters and visits, with low risk cases asked to verify their changes.

With the new technology 1,559 claimants have been assessed.

90 per cent of calls were assessed as low risk and 11.4 per cent of calls were high risk and they were asked to provide evidence of their circumstances.

Councillor Paul Osborn, portfolio holder for strategy and business support at the council, said that the pilot had been a huge success.

He said: "There has been no evidence of claims dropping off and that was something we looked out for. Just because you are flagged as high risk does not mean that you will have your benefit stopped. Ultimately if it is a genuine claim they will benefits regardless of the system."

Harrow Council have also been testing the VRA technology in other languages like Gujarati and hope to work in Hindi, Farsi and Punjabi in the future.

A further £1.5 million funding was announced for the scheme, which will be introduced to 15 other local authorities across the country.